Objectives: Given links between policing environment and infectious disease risk among vulnerable groups, we surveyed female sex workers who inject drugs in Tijuana and Ciudad (Cd.) Juarez. Data were used to 1. compare distributions of human rights violations and disease risk, 2. juxtapose these patterns against demographic and structural environment variables, and 3. formulate implications for structural interventions.

Methods: Structured interviews and testing for sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) were conducted (October 2008-October 2009). Frequency of individual and environmental factors, including police abuse, HIV risk and protective behaviors were compared between sites using univariate logistic regression.

Results: Of 624 women, almost half reported police syringe confiscation despite syringes being legal and 55.6% reported extortion (last 6 months), with significantly-higher proportions in Cd. Juarez (p

Conclusions: Collateral damage from police practices in the context of Mexico’s drug conflict may impact public health in the Northern Border Region. Itinerant officers may facilitate disease spread beyond the Region. The urgency for mounting structural interventions is discussed.


Originally published in Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública/Pan American Journal of Public Health (RPSP/PAJPH), Vol. 31, No. 5, pp. 403-410, 2012.


border conflicts, female sex workers, injection drug users, conflict, structural environment, gender violence, HIV, infectious disease

Subject Categories

Human rights, Prostitutes, Intravenous drug abusers, Communicable diseases, Mexico


Legal Studies | Public Health


Pan American Health Organization

Publication Date


Click button above to open, or right-click to save.